Health minister clarifies why it is necessary to charge for Covid-19 tests

) Minister of Health Bounkong Sihavong held a press conference answering questions about the recent decision by the government to allow central and local health facilities to charge 1.2 million kip for each Covid-19 test they provide.

“Right now the financial resources and equipment used for Covid-19 tests which have been provided by the society and international community are running short. Meanwhile most donors want the Lao PDR to be self reliant. Therefore we have proposed the national taskforce committee to ask the government if we should charge at the cost we have spent so that we can re-procure what we have used because every time we conduct a test, we need not only chemical solution but also PPE which is necessary for health workers and costs US$ 35 each and many sets of PPE are used everyday, along with other equipment,” said Minister Bounkong.

“It is necessary to charge for Covid-19 test especially from business people wishing to travel overseas on personal business trips and those who can afford,” he said.

No charges need to be paid for any test conducted for risk groups and target groups.

The Ministry of Health decision No. 3439 dated Dec 22, 2020 suggested that charge for Covid-19 test will be 1.2 million kip per test and this price applies to people travelling through international and traditional border crossings with permission from relevant authorities including: foreign diplomats, officials of international organizations, business people, domestic and foreign business people, domestic and foreign tourists, people of any nationality, foreign workers and those of any nationality who volunteer to have covid-19 test, as well as Lao workers wishing to travel abroad.

“This price of 1.2 million kip per test is calculated according to the cost spent. However, if we compare this price with that in neighbouring countries that can produce the equipment, of course, their price is cheaper. However, in some neighbouring countries that are unable to produce such equipment, a higher price is charged,” Mr Bounkong added.

Source: Lao News Agency

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